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Multiple Species Vivarium

Discussion in 'HH General Discussion' started by GumboJones, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. GumboJones

    GumboJones Member

    Hi all,

    I've been thinking this new project over for years now. I want to create a large vivarium, actually i guess it's called a paludarium, for years. I've done various lizard habitats in my younger days. Mostly they were desertscapes, that's where I lived and my group of friends hobby was catching whiptails and desert iguanas. I've kept some tropical lizards as well with a good amount of success.

    Now that I'm older wiser and more importantly have money to do it right, I want to build a tank with the approximate dimensions of 4h x 3wx 2d. The plan at the moment is to make it as self sufficient as I can. Taking apart the tank every few months to deal with feces and escaped meals isn’t my favorite way to spend a weekend. With a tank this tall I want to have some arboreal lizard species, I'm thinking anoles, day geckos and house geckos. On the bottom I'm going to have a fairly large pond with some small fish. I haven’t decided what kind of fish yet, but probably tetras (cheap and colorful) as well as some cleaner fish. To take care of any escaped insects I wanted to get a species of toad. That way they won’t compete for food with the lizard.

    Now that I've set up the scene here's my question. I'm not too concerned with the lizard species; I've kept those 3 together before and had those breeding in fact. Any expanded ideas on lizard species will be appreciated though. Does anyone have any suggestions on the amphibians? I've never kept them before. I thought maybe just fire belly toads but I’ve heard they can be very aggressive and are toxic. I've also read that fiddler crabs are good at clean up messes in lower areas. Please feel free to bring up any question you think need to be brought to light. The more I plan, the better chance of success I'll have. All these plans are still in there very preliminary stages, so nothing is set in stone.

    Thanks for any suggestions,
  2. skelly98

    skelly98 Elite Member

    bad idea. just a bad idea.
    - disease wich will ALWAYS spread from species to species, as each reptile has it's own forms of disease
    - fighting (they will always fight)
    - dominance (brown anoles kill and dominate green and house geckos)
    - fish can give a huge number of diseases to reptiles.
    - fiddler crabs need brackish water. the only fresh water crabs are vampires, wich are extremley agressive.
    - any tank will always need to be cleaned.
    - all frogs and toads have a toxin that will kill any other species.
  3. Wyldrose

    Wyldrose Elite Member

    Frogs and toads often secrete toxins, which can kill the other members of your Viv.
    4hx3wx2d is not going to be big enough to give a mixed species their own space. You will need a room sized habitat if you want to try and mix. Then you will need species that co-exist peacfully in the wild. There is always a stress risk, not to mention dieses and parasites.
  4. Terp91

    Terp91 Elite Member

    i agree with those above, not a good plan. If you want to do a mixed species tank only thing I can think of that may work would be setting up a large aquarium or small pond with similar species of small turtles and some fish. This would take up a lot more space than what you're talking about though and even then bullying and disease would be concerns.

    Have you considered getting a pair or trio of some type of lizard to try your hand at breeding instead? This would still give you a more active and appealing setup, plus you'll learn a lot.

    If you really want to have fish and lizards together you could build the setup with an aquarium below the terrarium and completely partitioned from the rest of the tank. This would allow you to setup both together while keeping all occupants safe.
  5. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    2 things:
    1) The mix you're talking about is a terrible idea. Skelly is completely right that green anoles are bullies. They are actually pushing brown anoles out of Florida, and clearly Aja has not seen this thread yet.

    2) You can put fish in a vivarium, but definitely not tetras... or anything pretty for that matter. The only reason you would put fish in the tank is if they are fish that the lizard would eat, such as minnows. That said, that would not be appropriate for either anoles or the enclosure size you are talking about.

    If you want to start a breeding colony in a large enclosure (much larger than what you are proposing), that might be feasible for you, but mixing species, especially the species you discussed, is just NOT a good plan.
  6. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    I agree with the above. :) it's a horrible idea. Don't do it. It won't work. Individuals will be eaten, and bullied, and dominated, and poisoned and then there's the parasite/disease issue.

    Also, Brown anoles bully everyone but curly tails, and green anoles are the species whose habitat use and resource allocation is changing as a result. :)
  7. GumboJones

    GumboJones Member

    Thanks for the inputs. I'll look into the disease . I didnt think it would be an issue since I assumed that disease dont jump species too often. Does anyone have any leads on where read about diseases and parasites?

    Ok, so definetly no on the crabs. It wasn't to serious of a thought. I just heard someone mentioning it and wanted to see what others thought of it.

    I dont think I really want to get into breeding the lizards. As far as numbers go though I wasnt planing on having a huge number of lizards in there. 3 or 4 anoles (which ever species are more docile), 2 geckos and a terestrial species on the bottom. I was planing on making this tank fairly well sectioned so the guys on the bottem couldnt expand too far out and the critters on the top wouldnt need to come down. All of this is just a pipe dream now, so any and all info you guys can give me will only nail me down to reality a little more firmly.

  8. TJOHNSON722

    TJOHNSON722 Elite Member

    The cage size is way to small. It may work IF you section off parts of cage (much larger cage) with plexi. Each species would have thier own section. You could build the cage then plexiglass off sections cutting places for trees, etc sealing it using silicone.its do-able but you'd have to rework the entire thing. It also won't be self sufficient and you'd have to clean feces, etc no matter what. (Try letting a dog poop in corner of your house and letting it sit for up to a month-basically what you'd do to them).
  9. GumboJones

    GumboJones Member

    As far as section is concerned I was going to make it into different areas. I doubt I would be able to keep any of the animals out of another section 100%, but I can put feeding areas in multiple areas and multiple basking spots and hiding spots at various heights. I haven’t come up with exactly how i'm going to do it though, but I still have a while to figure this all out. It will depend on primarily what I decide to put in the tank.

    Also after doing the math, a 4x3x2 tank would be about 180 gallons. Hmm seems like a large tank to me. I think I may end up doing somethign closer to 4x3x2.5 which would push it up to 224 gallons. That would give me some more room to creat a back drop.
  10. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    I would suggest waiting to build the enclosure until you figure out what kind of species you would like to keep. The beauty of a custom built cage is exactly that... it is custom built. You have the opportunity to specifically make an enclosure that will excite and stimulate the reptile you keep in it. All reptiles have different needs and likes.

    As far as mixing species is concerned (refered to as systems herpeteculture) You need alot of room and alot of experience to experiment with this. Like the others stated, disease and parasites are a risk. An ecosystem like this takes years to create and prepare for.
  11. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    Just curious to why you feel fish cannot be kept with lizards unless they are feeders?
  12. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, how are you going to provide multiple basking sites in different parts without overheating the whole thing, then perhaps different humidity levels. Also, will the animals know not to venture into another`s space? I agree with most of the members, not a good idea at all, more especially in such a tiny, tiny box.
  13. skelly98

    skelly98 Elite Member

    it's because they are both cold-blooded, and fish can carry parasites for their whole life with no symptoms ( i know this from a disease outbreak that killed off a few koi) , so, just like with wild caught insects and mice, there is a large chance that fish can give diseases to reptiles.
  14. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    Many people feed their reptiles fish with no problems? Many of my lizards live with fish with no problems. If you keep a clean enviornment and have proper filtration do you still consider this an issue? Most animals have parasites that are kept in balance.
  15. skelly98

    skelly98 Elite Member

    there is a difference between feeder fish (witch are kept in sterile conditions and treated), and tetras, wich are in untreated tanks with up to ten different species, and new fish arriving with new diseases every day. my concern was that if these parasites are in the water supply 24/7, there would be disease transmission. not to mention that chemical (thia something) that interferes with another chemical (thiawatever), wich is apparently deadly after a while.
  16. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    It was case specific, not general. For one, the bioload using tetras varies greatly, which is a primary issue, but secondarily, some tetras get nippy, which is not a great plan with other animals. There are other reasons, but I'll leave them speculation here.
  17. GumboJones

    GumboJones Member

    Keeping terrestrial frogs or toads in one spot wouldnt be too hard. I would just need to create some boundaries that were fairly steep and slick so they couldn’t climb or jump over. As far as arboreal critters I dont think I could keep them too isolated from anything on the bottom if they chose to move down, but I can make some platforms closer to the top that would give me new places to put basking areas and feeding sites.

    I'm also starting to lean away from having some amphs in the tanks, I dont want to deal with toxicity levels… I do plan on putting a large filtration system into this when I make it with a large reservoir to help offset ammonia levels created by anything living in the water. I’ll probably end up using a false bottom type set up. No specific detail at the moment. The more I research the more techniques I’m learning about.

    As far as making multiple basking areas I would think all I would need to do is not use and incadecent bulb. I'm not a fan of those cheap hot rocks, but it also isnt too hard to make something similar and scatter them around the tank. I could use a bright LED to creat the illusion of light heating the area without actually adding too much to the air temp. The heater wouldnt be too hard to make. I could cannibalize a USB cup warmer attach it to the back of a flat natural rock and test it for hot spots. Since it runs off of 5V it wouldnt be hard to run an LED light off of the same power sourse. Both the LED lamp and heater should use less power than one bulb. Just some thoughts, there's some still some good ol' R&D that needs to happen first.

    Just out of curiosity what size tank do people consider small and large? I was under the impression that 3' x 4'x 2.5' was a large tank.
  18. CentriRitanni

    CentriRitanni Elite Member

    It's a large "tank", but it is certainly not a large enclosure. A large enclosure would have a minimum footprint of 3'x5' and be at least 4' tall. When you're talking large, think Savannah monitor (6x6x4) or Iguana (4x6x6) etc. This is subjective, but to me, to qualify as large, we're talking refrigerator/armoire size. The more animals in an enclosure, the larger it needs to be.
  19. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    Large and small are relative to the animal in it. a 3x4x2.5 is large for a toad, small for a water dragon and completely absurd for an elephant. I try to (at the very least) make sure the length is double the length of the largest my reptile can get, the width is equal to the largest length my reptile can get, and the hight is more than suitable for the specific needs of my reptile. Remember, there are no animal boxes in the wild, so obviously... bigger is always better.
  20. Rakoladycz

    Rakoladycz Elite Member

    ^That is backwards! The brown anoles are Cuban Brown Anoles. The only anole native to Florida is the Green Anole and they are few and far between in Central Florida.

    I also think if the OP has really done his research I think it could be done in the size enclosure he mentioned.

    Diehardislanders brought this idea up a few weeks back and the convo was shot down. I feel the same way as he does in this manner that the limits of keeping need to be pushed to advance it. It needs to be done with careful research and someone who is experienced. Discussing this with other experienced keepers is a good idea. I do not encourage this idea by a novice at all.
    I think he needs to pick compatible species first. Since he wants to use a Green Anole as the aboreal I think a toad is a great idea. Even though the toads may be toxic they are not a prey item of the anole and these are evolved to coexist.

    Not sure the hardiness of them in captivity but our native toads include :
    Southern Toad
    Anaxyrus terrestris (formerly Bufo terrestris)

    Fowler's Toad
    Anaxyrus fowleri (formerly Bufo fowleri)

    Oak Toad
    Anaxyrus quercicus (formerly Bufo quercicus)

    Eastern Narrowmouth Toad
    Gastrophryne carolinensis

    Eastern Spadefoot Toad
    Scaphiopus holbrookii holbrookii (My personal favorite of our native toads)

    Green Anoles I never find on the ground, by providing water in the leaves and food up high I think it would prevent them from going down often.

    The concern of the fish for me is minimal, unless you get toads breeding and then laying in the water where fish can eat the eggs, I would be more concerned with the toads trying to eat the fish. Again something probably native to the same area.

    Of the species we are talking about I can guarantee they will most likely be WC(not fish, not my thing). If purchased from the same person probably harvested in the same areas. More than likely sharing the same parasites.

    As for size, I consider yours medium sized. Smaller than 4x2x2 small ,4x2x2 - 6x3x3 M, up to 8x4x4 large, + XL
    10 gallon aquarium makes a good water bowl? lol

    I would try and go for a 4x4x2. I think the anoles would use the space to go back and forth. I have seen a very few large ones that I swear are almost 12 inches long.

    I would be willing to entertain this conversation in a PM as most are entirely against the idea.

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